Jesus and the Poor Widow (04-12-21)
Bible Reading: Mark 12:41-44
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few pence. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.
They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything, all she had to live on."
It might come as a surprise to know that Jesus talked more about money than he did about faith or prayer. Eleven of his parables involve money in some way. Why might that be? Maybe in Jesus’ day as well as today, money has become a rival god, a god who is never quite satisfied, a god who competes with our Heavenly Father for our time and our devotion.
A few days ago we thought about a man who had to choose between his wealth and following Jesus; he chose his wealth and went away sad. Today we are thinking about a woman commended by Jesus for putting a couple of small coins in the collection plate as opposed to the rich people who threw in large amounts.
Each of us will have a different level of income, and each of us will choose how we handle it: how much we spend, how much we save and how much we give away to support both the ministry of the church, as well as the many different needs in our world today. In Jesus’ encounter with the poor widow and the rich people in the temple courts, it is clear that it was not the amount of the gift that was important, but the proportion that it represented of the person’s wealth. Loose change for one person could be the daily living allowance for another.
The song, ‘A rich young man (simple living)’, which I used before and include again below, contains the lines ‘Not what you give but what you keep is what the King is counting.’ These words seem to sum up the spirit of what Jesus was trying to teach in today’s reading.
I wonder if the main issue behind the gifts of the widow and the rich people is one of heart attitude, whether they are giving out of a sense of duty or from a spirit of generosity. Both Jesus and St Paul encourage a spirit of generosity in the way that we give, and both promise that God blesses the generous giver. As Jesus put it,
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,
the glory, the splendour, and the majesty,
for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.
All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.
A rich young man (simple living)